by Napp Nazworth
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—The day before the ‘fiscal cliff’ deadline and as Congress continues to work on an agreement, President Barack Obama appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to blame Congressional Republicans for not reaching a deal. In a panel discussion after the interview, journalists criticized Obama for not doing more to build trust with Republicans and not displaying more leadership on entitlement reform.
“We have been talking to Republicans ever since the election was over. They have had trouble saying yes to a number of repeated offers,” Obama explained Sunday. The problem has not been with the Democrats, Obama said, but with Republicans because they have been unwilling to ask the wealthy to pay more in taxes.
“So far, at least, Congress has not been able to get this [fiscal cliff] stuff done. Not because Democrats in Congress don’t want to go ahead and cooperate, but because, I think it’s been hard for Speaker [of the House John] Boehner and Republican [Senate Minority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell to accept the fact that taxes on the wealthy Americans should go up a little bit as part of an overall deficit reduction package,” he said.
The interviewer, David Gregory, asked Obama if he holds any accountability for the lack of an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff. He answered that it was the Republicans’ fault because he has moved “more than halfway” to their position. That agreement, Obama said, would offer two dollars in spending cuts for every one dollar in tax increases.
In the panel discussion after the interview, most of the journalists criticized Obama for not showing more leadership on entitlement reform. If Obama had shown more willingness to take on the long-term drivers of the nation’s debt problem, NBC News special correspondent Tom Brokaw explained, he would have a better chance of getting Republicans to go along with a last-minute fiscal cliff deal.
“I think it would have been helpful this morning to have said, ‘look, we get this tax deal done, I’m here to help on Medicare and Social Security reforms, we’ve got to address those,’ Brokaw advised. “Instead of just saying, ‘I’m going to protect the seniors who are there and the Medicare and Medicaid recipients.’ Give a little something to show good faith about what needs to be done on deficit reduction in the entitlement programs.”
Gregory recalled that when Brokaw interviewed Obama in 2008 he promised to take on entitlement reform before the end of his first term, but in Sunday’s interview he showed no commitment to entitlement reform.
“I asked him to make a commitment for the first year of his second term, he’s not prepared to do that. This is the driver, … you’re going to run out of discretionary money to do [the] things the president wants to do if you don’t take on entitlements,” Gregory complained.